By Times of India – Lectures on radio for college students to bridge digital classroom gap Image used for representational purpose only”>Image used for representational purpose onlyGURUGRAM: In an attempt to plug the gaps in access to online education with classes going digital, the department of higher education announced on Monday that it’ll be airing lectures on some important topics in the format of radio shows across the state on a daily basis. In a notice issued by the director-general of the state’s higher education department, all the colleges have been asked to chalk out a detailed plan for the radio lessons that would go on air from the first week of July. All four Akashvani stations will be airing the show at a common time slot which is yet to be decided. The move is aimed at taking the lectures and important sessions or talks by domain experts to every student as about 20%-30% of those enrolled are missing out on academic activity due to problems in accessing internet of possessing a smartphone. This digital divide is more striking in the rural areas where even those with internet access have suffered because of network and electricity disruptions. The higher education department will air at least two half-an-hour audio lessons for the students to ensure that those without access to the internet aren’t excluded. Teachers have been asked to prepare a list of topics from different subjects and allocate experts and academicians who will be preparing the lessons. The selected subject experts will have to record an audio lesson and submit it to the department before July 1. Speaking about the new initiative, education department officials told TOI that the initiative is the result of a series of discussions over the past few weeks to adapt to the unprecedented times that have thrown major challenges in ensuring quality education to all. The department has acknowledged radio to be one of the most effective mass media that has deep penetration even in the hinterlands of the state. While this is a new experiment aimed at maximising the coverage of education, the scope of these audio lessons shall be scaled up based on the feedback and efficacy of these shows. “Our aim is to ensure that nobody is left out. Our online classes are running well but there are few who are unable to log in. This initiative is primarily for them. Daily, there’ll be two pre-recorded audio lectures that would be aired on the radio. Teachers have been asked to prepare a list of topics they want to cover and allocate a domain expert who would record their lectures, talks and sessions, and send it to the department. All these lectures would be closely scrutinised by our experts to ensure they are up to the standards prescribed by the state, UGC and MHRD. Once we receive the lectures and schedule by all the colleges, we’ll decide a common time to air these lectures,” Dr Hemant Verma, deputy director, higher education, told TOI. Verma added that apart from the course lectures, the shows would also include sessions or talks on personality development, stress management, and career guidance. Teachers have also been directed to prepare the lectures by giving due priority to the importance of a topic in examinations, practical or professional life, and equal weightage to all subjects across all courses offered by different departments. Meanwhile, colleges and students have welcomed the step as a much-needed one and already have multiple suggestions to scale it up. They are of the opinion that apart from academic requirements of their courses, these lectures could include industry interactions. Teachers argue that this gives an opportunity to improve the quality of education in colleges that couldn’t organise enough group discussions and seminars owing to lack of enough funds and adequate infrastructure. “Having seminars and talks by industry leaders could be a reality for every student in government colleges, because now, there’ll be comparatively less investment to be made and lack of space would not be an issue,” said the principal of a government college in Gurugram.

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